In a country where fewer than two dozen African forest elephants are thought to remain, any new sighting of these critically endangered animals is cause for celebration. So, when a previously undocumented family of eight – including three calves – showed up among camera trap footage collected from Guinea’s Ziama Massif, there was genuine excitement that a species on the very brink of local extinction might be showing the first, tentative signs of recovery.
The eight-strong herd, captured on camera by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) camera traps in the Ziama Forest, has never been seen before by our local team. The photos strongly suggest that the efforts of FFI and our local partner Centre Forestier N’Zérékoré to protect the forest habitat of this super-rare species are helping to ensure its survival in Guinea.
African forest elephants are smaller and, despite their vast bulk, far less conspicuous than the more familiar savannah elephants that we are accustomed to seeing on our TV screens. As their name suggests, they tend to inhabit densely forested areas, making them much harder to monitor. Forest elephants were recognised as a separate species only as recently as March this year. They were immediately accorded Critically Endangered status on the IUCN Red List, the highest category of threat for a species that still occurs in the wild.